Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Time to Design Your Annual Flower Beds ; Kidd: Check Light Requirements for Chosen Plants

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Time to Design Your Annual Flower Beds ; Kidd: Check Light Requirements for Chosen Plants

Article excerpt

I'm feeling it. I'm feeling it. My hands are itching to get down and dirty -- in my garden, of course. What did you think I would say?

This spring has been a real tease -- warm, warm, cool; cool, cool, warm; frost. I know many of you have planted your flowers and some vegetables. I have been a good girl and resisted the temptation for a good reason: The soil is inconsistently warm.

Most plants, while they may not die, won't grow when the soil isn't warm enough. Planting early may help get a jump-start on getting things into the ground. It doesn't necessarily mean you are ahead of the game in flower or fruit production.

I look at it this way: Planting early means, if the temperatures drop too much, I have to weed, water and cover my plants at night for an entire month while they don't grow. The plants I plant later in warmer soil often will outgrow the early plants, and I have less labor time involved.

Annual flower beds are just what they say they are -- annual. Each year is a fresh opportunity to pour out your creativity and challenge yourself to explore new plants never before seen in your garden. Some plants will grow beautifully and others will push the limits, but, all in all, you will have learned a lot and enjoyed the journey.

Getting started

The first step is to find an area in which you'd like to have a splash of color. Determine if the area is in full shade, part shade or full sun. It makes a big difference when selecting plants.

Clear the area of weeds and grasses. Amend the soil 8 to 10 inches deep with peat moss or compost and mix in a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote. The added material will raise the bed somewhat. This will improve drainage. Most annual flowers don't like to dry out, but they also don't grow well in soggy soils. Building raised beds with boards or stones is another great way to maintain good drainage.

Using pencil and paper, roughly draw the shape of your garden. Graph paper can help with sizing. One square can equal 1 square foot. Use graph paper with large squares to make it easier. Colored pencils can give you a sense of what you're trying to achieve in color schemes. …

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